, PRETORIA, Sept 12 – Celebrity athlete Oscar Pistorius was found guilty on Friday of culpable homicide in shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a conviction that could result in a lengthy jail term.
A day after acquitting Pistorius of a more serious charge of murder, South African Judge Thokozile Masipa said that Pistorius had acted “negligently” when firing four hollow point rounds into a locked toilet door in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
On the charge of murder, Masipa said: “the accused is found not guilty and is discharged, instead he is found guilty of culpable homicide.”
“A reasonable person,” Masipa continued, “would have foreseen that possibility that whoever was behind the door might be killed by the shots and would have taken steps to avoid the consequences and the accused in this matter failed to take those consequences.”
The “Blade Runner” stared straight ahead as the conviction was read, showing little emotion.
From the gallery there was a sound of sniffles and shallow breaths of 29-year-old Steenkamp’s friends crying, including Desi Myers whose lip trembled in anguish.
Steenkamp’s father Barry ran his hand over his head while her mother June pursed her lips and shook her head.
The judge is expected to sentence Pistorius a few weeks from now and with no mandatory sentence for culpable homicide, Masipa will have a great deal of discretion over the punishment.